Day after day, promise after promise, the political classes parade across our screens (and if we are very unlucky, turn up on our doorsteps) assaulting our ears with the old, lame reasons that we should be voting for them and not for their equally ludicrous opponent.
But this election frightens me a little more than usual because, for a change, the outcome really does matter.
As businesses up and down the country have struggled through the last two years it has become increasingly obvious that there is something deeply rotten in our system of capitalism. Maybe it was naive to ever think this, but the past few years have shown us that there is no “level playing field” based on hard work and entrepreneurial spirit.
No, we have found – to our cost – that when the going gets tough, your face better fit. We now know which are the industries that will get bailed out and which won’t. We know who can make truly lousy mistakes and get a pay rise for it, and who can’t. We know that our money is forever safe in the banking system as the government simply doesn’t have the stomach to let anyone actually lose anything. This, for the chosen few, is a classic “win-win” situation.
Except for one tiny little detail. There is no such thing as a “win-win” situation in the real world. I win, you lose is the reality in the markets. And, as the next couple of years unravel, and unravel they will, we will really begin to see who the losers are. And I’ve got a funny feeling that we already know who they are. You, me, the small businessman, the middle class PAYE tax payer, the car owner, the householder. Yes, let’s get ready for the fact that we are going to pick up the bill for the wanton wealth destruction of the past few years.
Is there anything we can do about this? Well, here we are in the middle of an election campaign. We should be able to exact the kind of revenge on the politicians that we would like to but, let’s face it, that is simply cutting off our noses to spite our faces. No, instead we must behave just like the bankers and investment houses. We must not think of the greater good of society (bankers didn’t). We mustn’t concern ourselves with the long-term financial stability of our country (bankers didn’t). We mustn’t let the welfare of the poorest and weakest among us cloud our judgement (bankers didn’t). No, we must vote purely and simply out of self-interest.
Now we just need to see which of these three can most benefit us. This is going to be all about me, me and me.
How dreadfully sad.
Anthony Carty is a director at Clifton Asset Management.
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